A STUDENT almost brain damaged in a horror skatepark accident today called on riders to wear helmets at all times.
Ryan Gray, 17, had to be airlifted to hospital and induced into a coma after falling and smashing into a ramp head-first at Silksworth Sports Complex.
Ryan, who studies at Sunderland College, suffered bleeding on the brain and was left with three fractures to his cheekbone, a broken nose and eye socket in the smash last month.
He was not wearing a helmet, despite owning one, but says he will never again go out riding without it.
Today, as he recovers at his New Silksworth home more than three weeks on, mum Julie relived the accident.
She said: “When I saw him, I just thought ‘is he going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life?’.”
The teenager was out playing with pals one afternoon at the skatepark, which is next to Silksworth Ski Slope, when he had the accident.
“I can’t really remember much of what happened,” said Ryan, a former Venerable Bede School pupil.
“I was on my friend’s bike when I went to clear a full ramp.
“I said ‘let’s do this one more time before we go home’, so I jumped but I must have done it wrong because I landed on my face and slid down the ramp.
“I must have blacked out because the next thing I knew I was waking up in hospital.”
Julie, 49, a receptionist, hurried from work to the scene to be with her son and immediately feared the worst.
“I was just shocked when I found out what had happened,” said Julie, also mum to Ryan’s brother Daniel, 18.
“I’ve got to be truthful, when I saw him, I feared the worst.”
After being airlifted to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, Ryan spent a week in hospital with his family by his side before being allowed home.
He is now going for regular appointments as his recovery continues, with medics telling him to take a four-month break from riding a bike again.
He has no permanent injuries, but says the accident will make him more wary about staying safe when out on his BMX.
“It’s made me realise how important it is to wear a helmet,” said Ryan.
“If he does go back riding, he won’t be allowed out without wearing his helmet,” added Julie. “That’s a definite.
“A lesson has to be learned from this.”
Julie and Ryan also paid tribute to paramedics, police and staff at Silksworth Sports Complex who helped Ryan following the accident.
“We have to say thanks, especially to the Air Ambulance and the police, because they were fabulous,” said Julie.